Category: Academics (Page 3 of 5)
If you haven’t read “Against Democracy” by Dr Jason Brennan, then you should. It’s provocative, and thought provoking, and raises some important point.
He also wrote an article about it here in National Interest.
I can see why he is nominally correct in diagnosing the problem of modern democracy. There’s some merit in Brennan’s argument. The comments under his essay are eye opening and somehow validate his thesis, in the sense, none of the commentators perhaps even read his entire essay but went on to opine anyway. To rephrase Churchill, a significant argument against democracy is a five minutes scroll through any online comment board.
Anyway, enough of it. Read my full review, here.
Here’s my first post.
So, what an incredible week. To start with I got quoted by Financial Times on Chinese geostrategy, and to end it, I wrote my first blog for The National Interest.
It is a critique of Anne Applebaum’s latest in Washington Post on why we haven’t intervened the hell out of Syria. Because, clearly interventions historically solve all global problems.
Here’s my post, “Lament of the Liberal Interventionist Ideologues”.
Let me know what you guys think!
Full disclosure, I didn’t come up with the phrase, “death of expertise”, thanks to Prof Nichols for that (Buy his book! Really!).
I am, however, fully sympathetic to the stand, that in this age of interdisciplinarity, expertise is usually dead. Education has turned to a business, and the more marketable a name, the more saleable a university or college is, regardless of what they churn.
But, giving the role of a professor to Angelina Jolie stretches the limit and as usual led me to this long twitter debate. On the plus side, it was a civil discussion, which is unthinkable, given the norm of Twitter discourse these days. On the negative side, it was maddening as only academic debates could be.
So, here’re the basic premise of the question.
- Why Jolie?
- Is it sexist to oppose Jolie’s position as a Prof?
The answer to the second question is “are you F-in joking?!”
I’ve covered elections since 2008, both as a blogger and journalist. As a blogger, writing about two US elections of 2008 and 2012, and the Indian general election and the UK election. As a journalist and correspondent, New Zealand elections and Fiji elections. Never in my life, have I encountered an anomaly like Donald Trump.
Now, as a foreign policy researcher (and as my publications show, I consider myself to be a neorealist) and I have written enough about why neither Trump, nor Obama are realists of any sort. Other realists have written similarly as well. (Walt on Obama, Walt on Trump, Joffe on Obama, Blatt on Trump)
But that debate suddenly just got vicious.
As readers remember, Daniel Drezner first wrote about how Trump is/will be accepted as a foreign policy realist, because of how he sounds realist, has specific policy proposals similar to the stark realist world even some realists shudder to think about. I flinched at the thought then. But it is no shame to write now, perhaps I was wrong, and I underestimated Trump’s legitimisation within the realist foreign policy community.
The recent episode was the firing of a fellow of National Interest, who like a lot of realists, opposed this legitimisation of Trump by hosting him and correctly pointed out in an essay for the War on the Rocks, (where I write occasionally as well, which I must mention here for the sake of balance), that Trump is a charlatan and is too incoherent to be a realist president. Of course National Interest justified the hosting of Trump but it was not convincing, to say the least.
So where does that leave realists now?
I believe, this is what we see,
Everyday there’s a new argument on the rise of Trump, or Bernie, for that matter…to a political scientist both are same, populists. There’s no qualitative difference between two old male, proposing free stuff to everyone, feeding on rage and nostalgia for a past that never existed, and blaming free trade for everything that’s ill in modern America. But is it prudent to attribute a chain of causality? Is the Rise of Trump and Bernia even monocausal?
It is interesting to see journalists, historians, and media pundits trying to draw parallels but as a political scientist, I have my doubts. First of all, it’s easy to call Bernie a socialist, he has fixed economic and social ideas, no matter how senile and craven they are. But to assert Trump is a fascist, or a racist, or a realist, or a mercantilist, is to ascribe a logical coherence, when there’s none.
It is not prudent as a political scientist to decide what factors gave rise to what, when the situation is ongoing, that’s why we don’t do research on current events. Deng Xiaoping once joked, when asked about the effect of the French revolution, and he said, we are still trying to find out. Imagine someone in 1970s thinking about if US won or lost in Vietnam, trying to imagine that in 2016, Vietnam and US would be in talks to balance against China? My point is, it is impossible to understand what might happen in future, and it will be foolhardy to ascertain why Trump chose to run this campaign and what was on his mind.
Does he feed on racism of a certain section of American population? Most definitely. Is he personally a racist? Maybe, anecdotal evidence might lead to that conclusion. Does his campaign strategy involve feeding on the rage machine including extreme xenophobic, insular, anti-semitic rhetoric? Absolutely. Is he an anti-Semite? We don’t have direct evidence, but we know his daughter married a man of Jewish faith. I don’t think David Duke would have allowed that. Is there a section of left, which blames Israel and Zionists for everything? Ofcourse. Is Bernie an anti-Semite? You must be joking.
It’s extremely contradictory, and fluid, and difficult to answer.
My hypothesis is Donald Trump is bigoted, yes, but he is more of an unhinged buffoon and a demagogue. He can say anything to win votes (or sell his book after election), but there is no logical coherence or principle in any of his policy, domestic or international. As of Bernie, he is stuck in a 1960s obsolete worldview. And his young supporters don’t care, as long as he promise to make everything free.
A far interesting academic challenge, and I am planning to build up on that later, is to find out the causes which led to the rise of this phenomenon, this perfect storm, obviously avoiding the trap of monocausality.
I came up with these three factors.
The basic idea of his talk was the Great powers retrench, whether they like it or not, and it’s upto them how they can use it to their advantage and what policies they can adopt. Here’s his Website and his published papers. Check it out.
But that’s not what I am here for. There is a common argument, from the left and ultra right, that all the wars that happens, are because of oil. You can see the echo in conspiracy theories, in journalists who has no knowledge of IR trying to find a meaning and causality in an anarchic world, and people find it hard to believe that, take it or not, oil is not why states go to war. So, next time, you see a Greenpeace/CodePink/StopTheWar protest placard about war and oil, or Donald Trump lamenting how he would have “taken the oil” after “bombing the sh*t” out of the ISIS oilfields, (whatever in seven hells, that means) just know it’s garbage.
Here’s the path breaking research paper that dispels the “war for oil” myth. The abstract goes like this.
Big week, as I mentioned before, with a couple of major publications coming, other than my regular columns.
To start with, the biggest one till date, my essay on War on the Rocks, where I write a Neo-Realist critique of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s latest revisionist history lesson. And was then called a Neo-Con for some reason, in the comments. But that’s another issue.
The second big one was my guest post at the official blog of the University of Nottingham, Dept of Politics and IR, where I talk about a foreign policy course for Philippines and how it should balance between China and US.
Other than that, here are my weekly columns.
ROUND TWO OF “THE DONALD AND REALISM” ACADEMIC DEBATE:
Over the week the academic feud of categorisation of The Donald’s foreign policy entered round two.
Couple of weeks back, readers will remember, there was a twitter debate if Donald Trump’s foreign policy is realist, which bordered around three basic points,
- His actual policy, if it is even coherent or not.
- His Realist tendencies.
- His understanding of Realism.